Judas Child

( 23 )

Overview

It is three days before Christmas, and two young girls have disappeared from the local academy. This hasn't happened for fifteen years, since Rouge Kendall's twin sister was murdered. The killer was found, but now Rouge, twenty-five and a policeman, is forced to wonder: was he really the one? Also wondering is a former classmate named Ali Cray, a forensic psychologist with scars of her own. The pattern is the same, she says: a child called out to meet a friend. The friend is the bait, the Judas child, and is ...

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Overview

It is three days before Christmas, and two young girls have disappeared from the local academy. This hasn't happened for fifteen years, since Rouge Kendall's twin sister was murdered. The killer was found, but now Rouge, twenty-five and a policeman, is forced to wonder: was he really the one? Also wondering is a former classmate named Ali Cray, a forensic psychologist with scars of her own. The pattern is the same, she says: a child called out to meet a friend. The friend is the bait, the Judas child, and is quickly killed. But the primary victim lives longer. . .until Christmas day.

Rouge doesn't want to hear this. He's spent the last fifteen years trying to avoid the memories. A little girl has haunted his dreams all these years - and he has three days to finally put her to rest.

Filled with rich prose, resonant characters, and knife-edged suspense that have won so many fans, Judas Child is Carol O'Connell's most powerful novel yet.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Carol O'Connell's suspense novels earn critical praise and increasing sales with each new release. Mallory's Oracle and Stone Angel are two of her best, but she's topped them all now. Judas Child is a beautiful literary thriller, the kind of story that is almost delicious in the exquisite game played out by the hunter and hunted within it. O'Connell has a mastery of prose and an almost poetic sense of scene. Yet her story is suspenseful to the end, and she has created one of the most fascinating characters I've encountered in a while in her forensic psychologist, Ali Cray. But the book is not Ali's so much as it is Rouge Kendall's.

Rouge is a cop, and he's been called in on what at first appears to be the case of two children who've gone missing. But the missing-persons case turns to murder, and it recalls for Rouge the murder of his sister Susan, which took place when he was a boy. That loss was the defining moment in Rouge's life, and it changed everything for his family. Rouge considers himself somewhat responsible for Susan's death, since he had been her protector. But curiously, the recent murder of a little girl begins to remind him more and more of the murder of his sister 17 years earlier.

Then Rouge meets Ali Cray. Ali is no ordinary beauty. Although she is lovely to look at, one side of her face carries a large scar, almost a grotesque mockery of a smile emanating from the edge of her mouth. The fact that she's never done anything to cover up the scar indicates that she also has no ordinary mind. Ali studies murder and its meanings, and she scentsthelarger context of the murder of a little girl just before Christmas. She tries to convince Rouge that this is the same pattern that the killer used to murder his sister. In fact, Ali was a classmate of his sister's, and one of her special interests in this new case has to do with Paul Marie, the man who sits in prison for the murder of Susan Kendall from so many years ago. Marie was the priest at the small parochial school that Susan Kendall and Ali Cray attended. When he was convicted of Susan's murder, Rouge felt justice was done, but now, after this new murder, he's not so sure. One child, the murdered girl's playmate, is still missing, and Ali Cray is positive that the murderer is playing the same game he played years ago. The killer's game is to call out one child as bait for the other, then murder the first, and keep the other until Christmas day, for a second murder. Ali has a deeper conviction, that there are those around her who know the identity of the killer but have kept it secret for unfathomable reasons.

As Ali and Rouge get closer to the murderer, and as they race to save the child still within his clutches, it becomes apparent that the most monstrous secret is still to come. Ali will put herself into the hands of a killer in order to both understand him and save the child's life.

Carol O'Connell is brilliant. Judas Child has gorgeous moments, even within the most terrifying scenes. Judas Child is a mystery within a thriller and should be read by fans of both genres, as well as those who love great fiction of any genre.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a departure from her popular Kathleen Mallory suspense series (most recently Stone Angel), O'Connell's chilling tale of a murderer who preys on children compensates for a muddled plot with its clear-eyed look at the heights and depths of human behavior.

When two remarkable fifth-grade girls Gwen Hubble, the beautiful daughter of the lieutenant governor, and Sadie Green, an imaginative and plucky child obsessed with horror comics and movies are kidnapped from the St. Ursula's Academy, two adults afflicted by their own tragedies are drawn into the investigation. Forensic psychologist Ali Cray draws stares both for her slit skirts and for a disfiguring facial scar, the result of a secret childhood trauma. Policeman Rouge Kendall is haunted by the memory of his twin sister's murder 15 years earlier. The killer was supposedly caught, but similarities between the old murder and the current case make Cray begin to doubt. In the earlier case, the killer used a note from one captured child (the Judas child) to lure a friend; the reader knows that this is again the pattern, just as we knowor think we knowwhere the girls are being held. As the investigation continues and the girls attempt to escape,

O'Connell introduces vivid minor characters, including a 10-year-old boy almost too shy to speak and one of Cray's ex-lovers, a cop who expresses his thwarted yearning for her through insult contests. O'Connell's prose occasionally veers toward the florid, but the main problem here is a supernatural twist that leaves readers somewhat adrift. In the end, however, O'Connell's subtle characterization of people who face tragedy with resilience and spirit makes for a moving novel.

Kirkus Reviews
A kidnaped-child nightmare that's every bit as intense as O'Connell's acclaimed Kathy Mallory detective stories (Stone Angel, 1997, etc.).

Fifteen years ago, the little town of Makers Village, NY, and its pride, St. Ursula's Academy, were shattered when Rouge Kendall's twin sister Susan was lured from her home with the unwilling complicity of one of her trusted friends, into the clutches of a sadistic pedophile who killed her and left her family devastated. Now Rouge, only 25 but already a failure at Princeton, pro baseball, and police work, is put on a task force for a case that looks eerily similar: the disappearance of two more St. Ursula's students, wealthy Gwen Hubble, the obvious target (her mother Marsha is New York's Lieutenant Governor), and Sadie Green, the judas child presumably used to get at her friend. The criminal's m.o.—if it is the same monster that psychological profiler Ali Cray has identified, rather than the convicted suspect who's been in jail all these years—is to kill his child accomplice immediately, then let her cosseted friend linger in captivity till Christmas Day.

This time, though, O'Connell shows the two captives, both very much alive, desperately plotting to outwit their tormentor; plucky Sadie, who's seen every horror movie since Freaks and likes to play dead, is especially poignant and resourceful. Can Rouge follow the clues to their prison—winning the confidence of the selectively mute friend who was on the scene when they were kidnaped, identifying the contents of a telltale parka's pocket, keeping out of the line of fire among the local cops, the state cops, and the FBI—before the girls run out of time and hope?Though the scenario couldn't be more familiar, O'Connell's characters are so painfully real—most of them far too interesting for the limited functions the plot asks them to serve—that you're hard-pressed to take anything for granted in this grisly, poetic tale.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425238073
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 345,790
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol O’Connell is the author of several bestselling novels, including Judas Child, Killing Critics, and Stone Angel, all available from Brilliance Audio. She lives in New York City.
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Interviews & Essays

On Tuesday, June 16th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Carol O'Connell, author of JUDAS CHILD.


Moderator: We're pleased to have Carol O'Connell join us tonight to chat about her book JUDAS CHILD. Any opening comments, Ms. O'Connell?

Carol O'Connell: Good evening, everyone.



Pac87@aol.com from xx: Do you approach writing differently with a male protagonist?

Carol O'Connell: No, I don't. I think in terms of people. In many respects, men and women are very much alike. I am not naive about the differences, but the humanity is the commonality.



Elke from Bryn Mawr, PA: I am curious to get your opinion of books made into films. I think your books would carry over real well onto the big screen. What do you think?

Carol O'Connell: An author generally gives the book up for dead once they hand it to the agent. They change the characters, they change the title, they change the dialogue, and the plot, and I have no idea why they don't just steal the books.



Tony from Atlanta: Do you dislike having your fiction considered genre fiction? Do you think genre fiction can be every bit as intelligent and profound as "literary" fiction?

Carol O'Connell: I am very happy to be writing in the crime genre, precisely because it is regarded as a stepchild of literature. If there was another genre that was less regarded I would probably be writing in that genre. I am not concerned with labels. I don't really care what the people call the books. I call them books.



Sharon from Jackson, Mississippi: What is the significance of Christmas in this book?

Carol O'Connell: It is a juxtaposition of the most wonderful time of the year for many American families -- Christian, Jewish there is nothing comparable in Buddhism. But I wanted the contrast of something wonderful with something absolutely hideous.



Lisa from Trenton, NJ: Is this the beginning of a new series, or does it stand alone? Were you concerned that you might be getting a reputation as solely a series writer?

Carol O'Connell: This is a stand-alone novel. I am not concerned about a reputation as a series writer because I have more facets of the Mallory character, which I plan to develop in the next book. But I welcome the opportunity to stretch.



Jackie from Queens, NY: Did you base Rouge on anybody you know? What about Ali? I really enjoyed JUDAS CHILD.

Carol O'Connell: Rouge is not based on any person that I have ever met. I don't do character portraits of real individuals -- it seems a little unfair. Parts of Ali, though, would be based on the marvelous teenage experience of going to a prom with a face that looks like raw hamburger, following a mishap with my motor scooter, which my parents forced me to sell to pay for my broken teeth.



Mike from MMuntz@yahoo.com: That is a fantastic cover. Do you like your new cover? Who determines what will be put on your covers? I think they're unique, and I especially like this cover, as well as STONE ANGEL's cover.

Carol O'Connell: Yes, I like the cover very much. They do give me a great deal if input, and sometimes I do make changes. The only change that I made on this cover was that originally, you just had two little girls running across the bottom of the page, and I forced Putnam to cut up one of the children. They were very good sports, but they would like you to know that it is not their ordinary practice to cut up children.



Bryan from St. Louis, MO: I am a fan of all your books. I'm curious to know, What is your favorite of your books?

Carol O'Connell: My favorite book will always be MALLORY'S ORACLE, for sentimental reasons and because it was my dream to see a catalogue card with my name on it in the New York Public Library. And MALLORY did that for me.



Doug from Connecticut: There are a ton of both female and male authors in the mystery field, but relatively few female authors who write very dark suspense. Why do you think that is?

Carol O'Connell: There are 1,900 new titles coming out every year, and I couldn't possibly do a sampling on all of them, so I wouldn't know how to comment on that. I know Ruth Rendell does some very dark, psychological novels and does them well. I wish I were better read in my own genre. But I have so little time for anything but research anymore. I am sorry -- I just don't know.



Keith from Tampa Bay, FL: Why did you decide to write a non-Mallory book?

Carol O'Connell: It was a book that I wanted to write. The fact that Mallory was not in it was a minor concern to my publishers, so I provided them with the first 100 pages prior to going into any contract, and they were wholeheartedly supportive. I am sure that many serious writers would like to step outside their main protagonist, but it is a very chancy thing to do, or I am sure you would see more of it. The fact that the book didn't have Mallory in it simply wasn't a major issue with me.



Chris Cagle from SC@iamerica.nET: What inspired you to write this book?

Carol O'Connell: One book will begin while I am in the process of writing another. Sometimes it starts with a small vignette of a character, and over time I collect masses of notes that seem to connect together. After I have pushed a manuscript out for the production process, I drag out this mass accumulation of notes, photos, postcards, printouts, and I am looking at a virtual book.



John from JWC901@aol.com: Was there anything in particular that inspired this story? Or at least helped fuel the plot? Any news story?

Carol O'Connell: No, It was just totally a work of imagination.



Earl from La Jolla, CA: Do you find that living in New York City fuels your writing? Does the city inspire you at all?

Carol O'Connell: God, yes! It is the dirtiest, most dangerous town in America. I love New York.



Ned from Batrop, LA: How do you look into the mind of a serial killer? Do you have friends that are either cops or FBI agents?

Carol O'Connell: I have family connections to both and I never use them. And the reason for that is because if I made use of someone's expertise, I might feel obligated to be more polite to the cops and feds than I am. I prefer to be more realistic.



Niki from Sudbury, MA: What can we expect next from you? Are you working on a new novel?

Carol O'Connell: Yes, I am working on a new Mallory novel, and in this novel, I fully realize a character who is only referred to in the second novel. He is an elderly magician named Malakhai, and his dead wife -- who is part of the act.



Susan from aol.com: Do you feel closely connected to your characters? Do you have a hard time killing characters you've created?

Carol O'Connell: I find that you can create the most pathos in a novel if you kill the character you love the best.



Matt from Haverford, PA: Do you think the quality of writing in your genre is as good, better, or worse than in years past?

Carol O'Connell: I think it is always improving. There are very fine writers in the genre. Carl Hiaasen is wonderful. Andrew Vachss -- very good writer. Bret Easton Ellis -- fine writer. The bar is always being raised, and I will always try to keep up.



Bob from Oak Park, IL: What type of research did you do for this novel?

Carol O'Connell: Very elaborate research on mushrooms, very peculiar research on how one would go about growing an oak tree indoors. The experts in the field of oak trees -- which has its own society -- were very upset about this cruelty that I had planned for the oak trees. I think they are more upset than the animal lovers are when I do something despicable to a dog. I really like dogs and oak trees.



Norman from San Francis, CO: Why do you think people enjoy reading violent fiction and mystery?

Carol O'Connell: I am not sure that it is the violence that appeals to them, but when you pick up a book in the crime genre, you know that a problem will be posed early on and by the end of the book, it will be resolved, as it so seldom is in real life. I think it appeals most to people who are looking for a bit of justice and not finding it anywhere else.



Maureen from Ft. Collins, CO: How much do you write every day?

Carol O'Connell: I work probably eight hours a day, sometimes a great deal more. Some of the time is spent in research. I can't give an accurate accounting of the actual writing, but I can tell you that I am a slow writer, so consequently, to meet killer deadlines I have just given up the idea of having a life.



Kim from Morris Plains, NJ: Any advice for a writer wishing to get published?

Carol O'Connell: Don't do what I did. What I did was, I realized I couldn't get an agent until I had been published and I couldn't get a publisher without an agent. So I sent the book to London on the theory that it was a smaller country and so it would have smaller slush piles. The odds of this working are a million to one. Perhaps the best way would be to get a job in the field and make connections that way. Another good avenue would be the small presses, which you can find listings of at the local library. I recommend them because they do read the slush piles, whereas the large publishers prefer to have manuscripts screened by agents. Incidentally, I still don't have an agent. I keep meaning to get one, so six books later, I am going to do the right thing, I just don't know when. Good luck.



Richard M. from New Jersey: In a series, do you think it removes from the suspense to have a recurring character throughout the books, since you always assume the protagonist will end up being okay?

Carol O'Connell: Never assume that about Mallory. She was born not okay. There is always a lot of damage in every book. Death is not always the worst thing that you could do to people.



Tina from New York: Who would you cite as some of your favorite authors or influences?

Carol O'Connell: I am too widely read to pick one. I read outside of the genre quite a bit when I was reading, but one of the pangs of the fiction writers is that they read less fiction. The best book in the world is ULYSSES by James Joyce -- its language you can eat like cheesecake. My favorite book is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee, because it is a wonderful small universe and you are utterly in it. I think that is the hallmark of a great writer and worth emulating. I don't know anyone who would dare to emulate Joyce.



Moderator: Thank you for joining us tonight, Ms. O'Connell. Any closing comments?

Carol O'Connell: It has been a pleasure to be here, and I would like to thank everyone for their interest in the book. Good evening.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2006

    Chilling

    This was the first Carol O'Connell book that I read, so I wasn't locked into a mindset what the main female charecter wasn't. I couldn't put it down, and the ending was a real kicker.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2011

    Worst book she has written!

    I love the Kathy Mallory books, this was a big disappointment. It was too predictable and the characters were not very believeable. I would like another Mallory book but I guess she got bored with the character.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2006

    It wasn't a Mallory novel.

    I thought that I'd give this book a try, even though it wasn't a Mallory novel because I think O'Connell does a great job. But I had a hard time getting into this story, the leading female character pales in comparison to Kathleen Mallory.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2006

    Excellent

    I have read all of O'Connell's books and have loved them all. After finishing this one, I thought I must have missed something as all my questions weren't answered. I wish I new someone else who loved to read so we could discuss this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2002

    WOW

    It's 12:45 in the morning, and I just finished the book. I couldn't put it down, though I know I have to be up by 6. This book just gets better as it moves along. Reading it, is like getting on a express train that keeps picking up speed without slowing down. I just found a new favorite author!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2002

    I still wake up with tears

    This is the most haunting book I have ever read. AMAZING! I read it several years ago, but I really do still wake up on occasion, thinking about the amazing friendship between the two girls, tears rolling down my face.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2014

    Taughtly-written mysery

    As a lover of literature, The Judus Child weaves a suspensful story with beautifully-written prose,managing to bring tears at its conclusion

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    Fabulous read. First book read on vacation,others paled in comparison.

    Once I discover an author I like to read all of their work. All I can say is,"It's going to be a wonderful fall 2013."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    Very Intense

    kept me moving and wanting to keep reading; a real page turner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    good book

    I love Carol O'Connell, but this book wasn't my favorite. Her newest
    The Chalk Girl is excellent & I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2001

    fantastic!!!!!

    I read a lot, but Judas Child was one of the best books I ever read. I loved Rouge and ALi and the end of the book is such a surprise that I couldn't stop thinking about it for several days. I am looking forward to read more books by C.O'connel

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2000

    Excellent Mystery

    This was one mystery novel which keeps you guessing until the very end. The story is about two young girls abducted by a 'monster' and the bond of friendship which helps them to endure. The book has great characters that I would love to see again in another novel, especially Rouge and Ali. One of the best mystery novels that I have ever read.

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    Posted June 23, 2012

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    Posted December 13, 2010

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    Posted March 2, 2012

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    Posted June 4, 2012

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    Posted December 31, 2010

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    Posted January 6, 2011

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